Facebook looks to future with $2bn acquisition of Oculus Rift VR company

 

Los Angeles

Now that Facebook has all but taken over this world, it is turning its attention to creating new ones. On Tuesday night, the Silicon Valley firm announced its purchase of the virtual reality gaming company Oculus VR for $2bn (£1.2bn). Although Oculus’s signature virtual reality headset, Rift, is yet to be made available to consumers, it is already considered a hit thanks to a successful 2012 Kickstarter campaign and a buzzed-about demo at the recent SXSW festival.

The Rift, which resembles a pair of blacked-out ski goggles, reportedly allows users to enter immersive, computer-generated 3D worlds far more convincing than any existing virtual reality hardware.

Mark Zuckerberg, head of Facebook, wrote in a post: “Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow… Oculus [could] create the most social platform ever, and change how we work, play and communicate.”

Virtual reality may finally be coming of age. Sony recently revealed a prototype for its own virtual reality gaming headset, Project Morpheus, which will work with the Playstation 4 console, while Microsoft is also believed to be developing a similar device for the Xbox.

Mr Zuckerberg said that while immersive gaming would remain Oculus VR’s initial goal, he imagined a far broader future for the technology. “After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences,” he wrote. “Imagine enjoying a court-side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home… One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.”

The acquisition gives Facebook a foothold in the hardware space occupied by Amazon and Google, which plans to release its own wearable device, Google Glass, in 2014. This week the search giant announced that it was partnering with the eyewear manufacturer Luxottica, owner of Oakley and Ray-Ban, to create fashionable designs for its high-tech specs.

Oculus VR was founded in 2012 in Irvine, California, by the 21-year-old Palmer Lucky. Its chief technology officer, John Carmack, created the classic games Doom and Quake. The Rift’s early development and production was crowd-funded via Kickstarter, which led to a pair of multimillion-dollar financing rounds. At the end of last year the company was valued at approximately $250m. Already, about 75,000 Rift developer’s kits have been sold to prospective game designers, for $350 each.

Not all gamers were equally enthusiastic. Markus Persson, who created the popular Minecraft, revealed on Twitter that he had cancelled a plan to develop a virtual reality version of that game for the Rift. “Facebook creeps me out,” he said.

Mr Persson, who invested in Oculus VR during its Kickstarter campaign, also wrote: “I did not chip in ten grand to see a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition. I definitely want to be part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project